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Aligning our roots to grow as one

Alexandra Tyminski
MSM Class of 2015

(11/2015) Celebrations are a part of our culture. We celebrate things such as birthdays, anniversaries, religious holidays, and milestones. However, it is also popular to celebrate people. Celebrations are noted for their fun and enjoyable memories. When celebrating people though, we often remember what those people were like, what they did, what or whom they stood for, and why it is significant for us today. To me, I think relating to people from the past is one of the most memorable experiences. Some of you may ask, how do we relate to those from the past? Well, Iíll try and show you.

Two years ago at Mount St. Maryís University, another student, letís call him Bill, asked me to participate in a small committee to organize activities for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. At first, I was hesitant because I didnít know what this job would entail. After a long explanation of what this day was supposed to be celebrating and what the goals of the committee were, I told Bill that I would agree to take this day on. As a learning experience, I mostly watched how Bill led our small group of six students in planning MLK day. Last year was my first time participating in the event planning, but I sure did learn a lot about myself and about Dr. King.

Many of you may know who Martin Luther King Jr. is and what he did. Out of curiosity though, I asked a few of my peers about who they understood MLK to be and why he was important. Most answers revolved around civil rights, MLKís "I have a dream" speech, or that he was a pastor. I remembered thinking, okay, but what are the things he cared about? What reasons do we have to care about this day other than maybe the answers a few other students said?


Long story short, I was tasked with answering my own question above just this past year. Last May, Bill sat me down again and said, are you willing to lead this group next year? I paused and realized that I was the only senior on the committee next year. I would have to step up to the plate and really lead if I was going to say yes. Though I had some initial hesitations, I agreed to lead the group.

"Bill, I will do it. I am not feeling as confident in leading it because I just donít know if this will come together as well as you did it," I said.

"You can do this, you have one more person on this committee to help you find new members next year, and I am confident you can do this. I wouldnít have asked you if I didnít think this is something you could handle," Bill reassured me.


Here we are a year later and the new MLK Day committee is prepared for a big celebration at Mount St. Maryís University on Monday, January 19, 2015. It will consist of a day revolving around documentaries, movies, a brunch entailing discussions around topics MLK would have been interested in, and an open mic night.

Originally, when the other five students and I sat down to discuss what we wanted to get out of this day, we didnít really know besides the fact that we wanted Dr. Kingís values to resonate within our campus. It took some time and effort on our parts to research and understand what exactly MLK stood for and how it could connect with our theme for this year. And then one day, it clicked.

It took a lot of brainstorming to come up with the theme, but it was settled. Aligning our roots to grow as one was the best theme we could come up with. Martin Luther King Jr. stood for people of all kinds. He stood for who they were inside and for their human rights. However, MLK did not just advocate for human rights, but rather he advocated for all of humanity to come together. You might be thinking, thatís nice, why donít we gather in a circle and hold hands? But, after being on this committee for two years, and discussing it with my team members, we believe that maybe there is something more to it than just holding hands.

Aligning our roots to grow as one stemmed from the idea of bringing MLK right to the Mountís front door. Naturally, we would use the tree to symbolize our roots and the theme. Our roots are like our cultures. They are the very place we come from, the nationality we are, and the things that make us who we are. The tree trunk is the foundation of the Mount. It is our professors, administration, staff, clubs and organizations, friends, classmates, and even our fellow communities surrounding the university. The branches that we have are our talents, skills, and visions. And finally, the leaves are the things we produce. The leaves grow each season and then fall off. However, each year of growth and decay brings new talent and relatable experiences. When we leave the Mount, we "leaf" something behind for our future Mounties and drop back into the soil. The soil, much like society, is a new place filled with different rocks, soil, dirt, etc. But, this time, we have to learn to take those visions and skills from the Mount out into society.

This theme goes well with Martin Luther King Jr. because it highlights that MLK was about binding people and communities together through recognition of culture, activities, and skills. This is how the Mount is trying to relate to MLK this year and the yearís beyond. We strive for the celebration of differences aligning as one. We look forward to new beginnings this year by celebrating our roots.

Most of the time, in the news, we hear about divides amongst people or nations. Some argue that the divide occurs because human rights mean something different to people all around the world. Others say that many disputes will never be solved. However, I do not really hear any news saying, what should we do about the divides in the world? I think that this has become a growing issue in our nation, a nation known for stability, strength, and opportunities.

The students at Mount St. Maryís University want to show that this issue can be worked towards being solved by celebrating differences and recognizing that this is important. MLK Day at the Mount is to reveal that highlighting our roots is vital in order to understand where people come from. Someone once told me that I canít make people care about these issues. I told them that they are right. I can never make anyone do anything, but I can educate and teach others about cultures and people in a way that is eye-opening to not just the Mountís campus, but also to our community. I can hope that one day, building relationships with other people and cultures will become as important to others.

Martin Luther King Jr. Day will be a celebration on our campus, but it will also be a celebration of you, the community. Whoever you are, reading this article, thank you for being you. Martin Luther King Jr. respected all humans and all human rights, and Iím sure if he were here today, he would give you a smile and simply say hello. Or he might empower you to keep your visions alive, to keep dreaming. But, for sure, he would thank you for being you and desiring to be educated about different types of people.

When I was a tour guide for the Mount, many parents and high school students would ask me, "Why did you choose the Mount?" My answer always remains the same.

"It was for the people, the community, and the diversity," I said.

Each year, I have met so many different kinds of people, both at the Mount and within the surrounding communities, who have influenced me in positive ways. It is through those relationships and bonds that I have formed that I am empowered every day. They push me to show others that a community begins with diversity, and so do many of our relationships. Ironically, being different brings us together. Being who you are can create solidarity amongst not just this nation, but with the world. I care so much about respecting different cultures and people, and I have a passion to align differences as one. It is in this year of organizing MLK Day that I see why Bill asked me to lead it. Thank you to Bill and thank you to Martin Luther King Jr. for showing us how to care about others. This year, we will be celebrating a man of great strength and courage, who during his time fought to align many roots to grow as one. Growing as one means growing together. In a world filled with differences, MLK said it himself, "Where do we go from here? Chaos or Community?"

Read other articles by Alexandra Tyminski